Get Involved with Bayley U
By Katelyn Rieder, Communications co-op
Back in September of 2023, Bayley, the retirement and wellness community founded by the Sisters of Charity, launched an all-new program: Bayley U (short for university). This educational program invites people all across Cincinnati, Ohio, to enroll in a wide variety of low-commitment, inexpensive classes (prices range based on membership and class length). The first-ever semester officially began on Sept. 5, but several classes did not start until later in the month or early-October. Several individuals in the Sisters of Charity Community were able to get involved with the program, either as a student or instructor.
S. Joan Cook enrolled in Nutrition 101, which met every Monday throughout October for 75 minutes a session. She discovered Bayley U from being a member of their email list, and immediately recognized the class as something she would be interested in. S. Joan remarked how qualified her instructor, Jaychele Charles, was for the class; she was prepared with many handouts and presentations for each class period.
“I appreciated that she made excellent use of the time,” said S. Joan. “There was not one wasted second, and I appreciated that as a teacher. She was very enthusiastic about the topic.”
She also commented on how great of an opportunity Bayley U is, particularly for senior citizens, as it provides a resource for more information about intriguing topics: “As senior citizens, we’re eager to be able to reflect and learn about interesting things. It expands our knowledge horizons in interesting ways. It keeps us growing and keeps us learning,” said S. Joan.
Several other Sisters (Judith Metz, Marie Pauline Skalski, and Marty Gallagher) enrolled in the Geology of Cincinnati course, taught by former Mount St. Joseph University professor, Meg Riestenberg.
Sisters Marie Pauline and Marty both motivated each other to take the class. S. Marie Pauline reflects on the moment: “I was attracted to the class but I hadn’t decided to actually take it yet, and then Marty said, ‘Did anybody see the list of classes at Bayley U? I’m interested in Geology.’ When we realized that we could go over together to the class, we both signed up.”
S. Marty laughed in response, “Now face it, you knew you were going to get a ride and you knew we were going to go to McDonald’s afterwards.”
Throughout these drives across the street to class (and then to grab food afterwards), a friendship blossomed between the two Sisters. While S. Marie Pauline was able to enjoy all the scientific aspects behind the geology around us, S. Marty especially appreciated the beauty and aesthetic of all the specimens and fossils the class looked at. While these two interests may be separate on paper, the Geology of Cincinnati course was able to bring them together.
S. Judy Metz got involved with the same course also through the e-mail list, but became even more invested because Meg Riestenberg is her cousin. One of her favorite class sessions was the group’s field trip down to the bottom of Bender Road where they were able to look for fossils and unique specimens along the exposed hillside.
As an informal way to celebrate the last class session, Meg gave each student a small fossil from her vast collection—S. Judy affectionately referred to her gifted fossil as a “prize” for completing the course.
Thanks to her positive experience in her first course, S. Judy agreed to teach a course next semester during the spring: Highlights of Sisters of Charity 19th-Century History. “I’m very passionate about history, especially history of the Sisters of Charity,” she explained. “Throughout all the things I’ve done in my life, I consider myself a teacher. So it’s a lot of fun for me to do this.”
S. Judy is not the only teacher from the SC Community—employee Bill Tonnis taught a course during the fall semester at Bayley U: The Contemplative Path, Jesus, and Centering Prayer. The class met four times total, with each session being an hour long.
As a chaplain with the Sisters of Charity for several years, Bill was more than prepared to share his knowledge of this particular style of prayer with others. Additionally, he was able to incorporate some of his many songs into each session as a way to start and end their time together.
“I appreciated that I was given the opportunity to do it,” said Bill. “To give learners with a range of expertise in a variety of areas the opportunity to share, it’s invaluable —especially for adults looking to do something else in the second half of their life.”
While Bill has already taught contemplative prayer in a workshop format, he also acknowledged how his role in the SC Community prepared him to teach others: “Working here with the Sisters has given me a great opportunity to live contemplatively all the time. To be able to have a job where you can live out who you are is really invaluable. Since starting here, I think I most authentically live myself more than ever before.”
Bill looks forward to seeing the future of Bayley U and how it will grow over time, and he especially is interested to see who else will instruct a course: “There is a certain thing that elders can provide in terms of wisdom. If you have expertise, you might as well share it,” he reflected. “We should all be lifelong learners.”
The close proximity to the SC campus, inexpensive cost, and minimal time commitment are all factors that make Bayley U an outstanding resource for Sisters, Associates, employees, and others. Whether it is through instructing students or learning from others, becoming involved in Bayley U is a great opportunity for all.